LL.M. Alum Wins Vanier Canada Award

An alumnus of UCLA School20170706 JoseMauricioGaona of Law’s LL.M. program has won a 2017 Vanier Canada scholarship, that nation’s highest doctoral academic honor, for his work in human rights.

Jose Mauricio Gaona LL.M. ’11 will receive $150,000 Canadian over three years for his research project “The Unwelcome Refugee — An Introspective Analysis on National Security Interest, Modern Forced Migration, Refugee and Asylum Protection.”

UCLA Law professor Asli Bali, director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies and inaugural faculty director of UCLA Law’s Promise Institute for Human Rights, and law library director Kevin Gerson were instrumental in supporting Gaona’s scholarship application.

“The education and skills I received at UCLA Law played a major role in me obtaining this award,” says Gaona, whose work draws extensively on knowledge he learned in Bali’s international human rights course and Gerson’s class in advanced legal research. “Considering UCLA Law’s international reputation, being a graduate certainly helped when I was competing not only with Canadians but also with graduates from the best universities around the world.”

Similar to the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarship programs, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship was founded in 2008 to support top scholars conducting doctoral research in health, social sciences and the humanities. Gaona will conduct his research at Montreal’s McGill University.

He says that his work “aims to reverse the dangerous amalgam between populism, politics and public policy that is gradually affecting the way in which refugee populations across the globe are being perceived, received and treated.”

Gaona’s mentors are pleased to see that his work has gained recognition. “Mauricio is an exceptional scholar,” Bali says. “We expect that his efforts will expand our understanding of the international and systemic failures to protect the world’s most vulnerable people.”